I married this woman 31 years ago today. Dorothy Behlen Heinrichs is more beautiful than ever, she's smart and funny and accomplished, and I could show more flattering pictures. But this one helps explain why I've able to meet so many outlandish goals and recover from so many screw-ups.
It was the winter of 1980, I think, and Dorothy and I were dating, living a few miles apart in Washington, D.C. We were visiting my college friends, Tom Martyn and Ellen Fairchild, at Tom's cabin in the Adirondacks. Dorothy, who had never cross-country skied before, followed gamely until, soon after this picture, she found herself on a steep slope, clinging with both arms around a small tree and sobbing.
I felt like a total jerk embarrassing her like this. She thought she had embarrassed me. I figured I'd screwed up our new relationship to a fare-thee-well. She thought I'd never marry her.
Today we live on 150 acres in New Hampshire with 10K of ski trails. We have two grown children. She loves the snow.
In the mid-1980s we moved north and I took her backpacking for the first time. Terrified of heights, she refused to use trail bridges and soaked herself fording rivers. The trail on the first day was so tough that her leg cramped up and he had to lift it with her hands to get up the last part of a mountain.
In the mid-1990s she led me and our kids up all 48 of New Hampshire's highest peaks. She has climbed our neighboring 3,200-foot mountain more than 400 times, and she'll do it again--in snow and ice--today.
In 2002 we were living in Connecticut and yearning to return to our beloved Northwoods. I was in a high-paying job I didn't like very much and had been suffering from severe depression. Dorothy urged me to quit and write a book on my passion, the art of argument. This was crazy. Dorothy hadn't worked in a full-time job for 20 years, our daughter was applying to colleges and our son was about to start high school. Our income would drop to zero. "I believe in you," she said.
So we moved back to New Hampshire, Thank You for Arguing became the bestselling book on rhetoric, and Dorothy worked her way into the vice presidency of a law school. (She starts a new job with the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth on Monday.)
And now I have this weird itch to write a book about running my age and breaking the Time Barrier. I'm getting up at 4 and training two to three hours a day. She's doing the Insanity workouts and has the body of a woman 30 years younger.
I've had my own virtual moments of clinging to trees and thinking I'd let Dorothy down, Each time she has seen someone different from the coward I thought I was. I've fallen and she's fallen and each time we've hoisted each other up. She's my helpmeet. I'm hers.
Happy anniversary, my love. May we run our age forever.